In-Custody Death Investigation Ongoing In Ocean City

September 5, 2017
By

MD State Police
September 5, 2017
(OCEAN CITY, MD)

At the request of the Ocean City Police Department, Maryland State Police criminal investigators are conducting an investigation into the death early this morning of a suspect who had been arrested and examined at a hospital, but, for reasons unknown at this time, had what appears to be a medical emergency and died after being transported back to the hospital.

The deceased is identified as Byron K. Tunnell, 28, of Ocean City, Md. He was pronounced dead at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, Md.

The preliminary investigation indicates that just before 11:00 p.m. yesterday, an Ocean City Police Department officer initiated a traffic stop on a 2004 Chrysler passenger car for a traffic violation on Baltimore Avenue near 20th Street, in Ocean City. The driver of the car, later identified as Tunnell, continued driving to the area of the 400-block of Bayshore Drive, near 26th Street. Upon stopping, Tunnell told the officer he knew his license was suspended and he wanted to get his car back to his house.

The officer informed Tunnell he was under arrest and attempted to handcuff him. Tunnell resisted arrest and a backup officer discharged his electronic control device, also known as a Taser. Officers on the scene said the device did not have its usual effect and Tunnell fled on foot from police.

Tunnell ran and tried to escape by going under a porch. As he ran, officers saw him discarding what appeared to be drugs. Officers later recovered two small baggies of suspected crack cocaine and a glass smoking device from this scene.

Officers took Tunnell into custody at the porch and immediately called emergency medical services to the scene, which is protocol after deployment of an electronic control device. Medics responded to the scene and, after an examination, determined Tunnell needed no further medical intervention. However, Tunnell requested to go to the hospital and officers agreed to take him there. Officers determined he should be taken to the hospital in a police department transport van, since he had previously fled.

An Ocean City Police Department transport van responded and took Tunnell to Atlantic General Hospital. He was examined at the hospital and released back into police custody shortly before 1:00 a.m. today.

Upon release from the hospital, Tunnell was placed back in the transport van to be taken to the police department for booking. The preliminary investigation indicates Tunnell was monitored through the audio and video system in the van by the police officer and public safety aid in the vehicle. During the transport back to the police station, Tunnell told police personnel he was not feeling well, but was okay. He also indicated to police he may have swallowed drugs prior to his arrest.

Minutes later, police transport personnel observed Tunnell having what appeared to be a seizure. The van was immediately stopped and emergency medical services were requested to respond to the area of Baltimore Avenue and 12th Street. Officers began performing CPR before EMS arrived. Tunnell was transported by ambulance back to Atlantic General Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Maryland State Police Homicide Unit investigators are leading the investigation into this death, at the request of the Ocean City Police Department. State Police crime scene technicians are processing the scenes for evidence. Assistance is being provided by the State Police Criminal Enforcement Division, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation, and the Ocean City Police Department Criminal Investigation Division. Investigators have also been in contact with the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office.

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